Neapolitan Cookies

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Did you know Hulu Plus has a channel devoted to Martha Stewart holiday specials? I love it. Last week I marathoned them while cleaning, baking, and decorating for Christmas. These are from the old days, before Martha’s stint in prison and phoenix-like comeback. I found that binge watching these old shows created a curious progression of emotions. First admiration and longing, wishing my home and life were as organized and my baked goods so impeccable. Second, humor; sometimes Martha’s stuffy affect strikes me as absurd. Finally, the longing fell away and I felt an affection for my deeply informal roots. Growing up, holiday meals were eaten on the floor by the coffee table or perched on the sofa, surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles, and the washer and dryer on the back porch doubled as a dessert buffet. But wherever your holiday traditions fall on the formality spectrum, good food will always be welcome, especially cookies. And Martha Stewart knows cookies.

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This recipe is adapted from Martha’s recipe for Neapolitan cookies. I also doubled it, so if you prefer to make fewer cookies, you could use her recipe. I used dried cherries and pistachios instead of cranberries and walnuts; it’s all about personal preference. The dough freezes very well, and keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator. In fact, after about a week in the fridge, the flavors in the dough become more interesting and complex. I recommend allowing several days to rest the dough before baking these.

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  • 2 cups dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Dough

  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and espresso powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually beat in flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl twice.
  • Incorporate the chopped dried cherries.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Orange Sable Dough

  • 2 cups pistachios (I like the salted kind), rough chopped
  • 2 + 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 + 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons grated orange zest, (about 6 oranges)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups all purpose flour

 

  • Combine the almond meal and confectioners’ sugar and set aside.
  • Place butter and zest in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until white and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • On low speed, add almond mixture; beat until combined, 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Add egg and lemon juice; combine. Add flour, and beat until combined.
  • Add chopped pistachios and mix until combined.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

  • Line a 13″x9″ pan with plastic wrap. I used a cake pan for it’s square-off corners and sides.
  • Press the orange sable dough into the bottom of the pan. Make sure to get into all the corners. Use an offset spatula to smooth the surface.
  • Spread the chocolate dough over the orange sable dough, and use the offset spatula to smooth the surface.
  • Cover with plastic and chill for at least two hours.
  • Once chilled, turn the dough onto a clean surface and remove the plastic wrap. Slice the dough into 2″x9″ bricks.
  • From here you can wrap these “bricks” in plastic wrap, seal them in a plastic bag, and freeze or refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.
  • When it’s time to bake, preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  • Slice the brick into 1/4″ slices. Place the slices onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, at least an inch and a half apart.
  • Bake until they’re firm to the touch, 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  • When baking frozen dough, allow the dough to come to room temperature. I did this by cutting the brick with a sharp knife, then letting the cookies sit on the counter until thawed. It probably only took about ten minutes for them to thaw. Bake as usual.

These cookies have a great depth of flavor and are not too sweet. They make a beautiful gift for this time of year. (Or anytime, really.)

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

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